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Ambassadors Concert Series 2015/2016

13th season

Be Still, My Soul.

Advent concert to mark the 150th birthday anniversary of Jean Sibelius
Esa Ruuttunen – baritone
Sami Väänänen – piano
Prague Conservatory students

10.12.2015, Thursday 20:00
Koncertní sál Pražské konzervatoře/ Prague Conservatory Concert Hall Dvořákovo nábřeží 2, Praha 1
In cooperation with the Embassy of Finland and Prague Conservatory, the concert is co-organized by Musica Clasica Libera o.p.s.
Under the auspices and patronage of H.E. Mrs.Helena Tuuri, Ambassador of Finland.

PROGRAM - Jean Sibelius:

Novelette for violin and piano Op. 102 (1922)
Marie Hasoňová – housle / violin (class of prof. Fišer)
prof. Martina Hájková – klavír / piano

Humoresque Es dur / in E flat major Op. 89, No.5 (1917)
Nocturne Op. 51, No. 3 (1906)
Terezia Šofránková – housle /violin (class of prof. Pazdera)
prof. Hana Forsterová – klavír / piano

Klavírní trio C dur/ Piano Trio in C major „Loviisa“ (1888)
Allegro, Andante, Allegro con brio
(under prof. Kresta): Zuzana Balkóová – housle / violin, Gala Loszynska – cello,
Nikita Stěpaněnko – klavír / piano

Kuusi laulua (six songs):
Våren flyktar hastigt / Spring is Flying, Op. 13 No.4
Demanten på marssnön/ The Diamond in the Snow, Op. 36 No.6
Svarta rosor/Black Roses, Op. 36 No.1
Illalle/Evening, Op.17 No.6
Lastu lainehilla/Wood on the Water, Op. 17 No.7
Laulu ristilukista/Song of the Cross-Spider, Op. 27 No. 4

Finnish Christmas songs by other composers:
Heino Kaski Mökit nukkuu lumiset
Otto Kotilainen Varpunen jouluaamuna
Karl Collan Sylvian joululaulu

Pět vánočních písní / Five Christmas Songs (1895 – 1913) by Sibelius
1.Joulu saapuu portin luo 2. Tervehtii jo meitä 3.Jo joutuu ilta
4. En etsi valtaa, loistoa 5. On hanget korkeat, nietokset

Esa Ruuttunen – baryton / baritone
Sami Väänänen – klavír / piano

Finlandia Op. 26 (1900)
Iryna Cherkashyna – klavír / piano (class of prof. Milan Langer)

Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) was born in Finland when it was part of Tsarist Russia; his parents spoke Swedish – the official language then, as for many past centuries Finland had been under the power of the Swedish Empire.

At Sibelius’ death, Finland, independent since 1917, mourned its first national composer to win international recognition; his role in promoting the identity of Finland as a nation was perceived as so important that when he was 50, his birthday on December 8th was declared the Day of Finnish Music and has been celebrated ever since.

His main sources of inspiration were the magical beauty of his country´s nature, and the national myth of The Kalevala: Finnish legends of pre-Christian times that had only existed as songs and folktales and for generations were kept alive by local storytellers and singers. Collected in Karelia, eastern parts of Finland, and reconstructed into a national epic, the saga triggered a revolution in all areas of late 19th century Finnish culture, from literature and music to arts and crafts, imbuing them with the spirit of a heroic past, courage and hope.

Next to the fabulous countryside, amidst which he grew up, Sibelius as a child was attracted to music. He played both the piano and the violin, studying the latter at the Music Academy in Helsinki (which now bears his name). The Piano Trio presented tonight shows his beginnings as a student of composition; at the seaside town of Loviisa, he had enjoyed many happy summer holidays and played in trio with his elder sister and younger brother.

Humoresque and Nocturne are part of large orchestral suites, which along with his Violin Concerto reflect his love and art of violin; these arrangements as well as smaller chamber pieces (Novelette) bring out the violin´s romantic sound, evoking the atmosphere of the early 20th century; their interpretation presents a considerable technical challenge.

His Christmas Songs have become a traditional part and parcel of Finnish Christmas although they may not be generally associated with Sibelius as their author.

Sibelius achieved recognition mainly as a symphonic composer of large orchestral works and symphonic poems (Kullervo), mostly inspired by the Kalevala imagery; his Finlandia (1899) had become a symbol of the Finnish fight for independence, acquiring status as a second national anthem; the piano arrangement is by Sibelius himself. A version sung as a Christian hymn begins with the lyrics: Be Still, My Soul.

Before embarking on his operatic career as a baritone singer, Esa Ruuttunen studied theology at the University of Helsinki and worked as a priest. Singing and voice education became his focus later, first at the Sibelius Academy, then at Aachen University of Music and master classes in Italy and Germany. In 1981he gave his first concert in Helsinki, and shared 2nd place in the Geneva Song Contest. For almost a decade he worked for the Finnish National Opera, while appearing regularly at the Savonlinna Opera Festival. He has sung in Bavarian Staatsoper in Munich, London’s Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera and Berlin State Opera. Sami Väänänen, lives in Berlin, playing extensively throughout Europe and overseas both as soloist and chamber player. Having studied piano at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki and at Hochschule für Musik, Freiburg, he went on to Trinity College, London, to study with composer and pianist Anthony Green. In 2011 he premiered the piano concerto Sublunar Mechanics by Tomi Räisänen with Orquestra Sinfonica do Recife, conducted by Osman Giuseppe Gioia, in Brazil.